Why Apple may never open the iPhone

“While third party software development offers all kinds of tantalizing potential for the new mobile, there are a half dozen reasons why Apple may not ever deliver the iPhone fully open to third party development, following the model of gaming consoles,” Daniel Eran Dilger writes for RoughlyDrafted.

“Will Apple give third party developers the keys to its new vehicle and allow them to drive off with the value it has created? It hasn’t yet, and there are a number of reasons to think that Apple won’t,” Dilger writes.

Among other things, Dilger covers:
• Web apps via Safari offers a good enough alternative to serve more than 80% of most developers’ needs
• Possible Apple-certified third-party online software sales via iTunes (see: iPod games)
• Apple may be able to establish a viable mobile platform without needing to fully open it to third party development
• Depending upon large third party developers can cause grief (see: Microsoft Office for Mac)
• Open Application Programming Interfaces involve complex management and maintenance and can create legacy issues (see: WIndows)
• A closed hardware platform offers Apple extreme flexibility for the future (see: iPod)

Dilger discusses “Six Reasons the iPhone Will Stay Closed” and much more in his full article here.

45 Comments

  1. It’s too bad. There’s a huge potential market for a pocket-sized computer. Without the ability to configure it to my needs with software, it is simply an appliance and can never be considered a computer. Where would the Apple II, IBM PC, Macintosh, etc. be without the ability to do pretty much anything imaginable by software developers? They’d be appliances that were never able to realize their full potential.

    MW “progress”!

  2. Who says they will need to “depend” on 3rd party developers? Full-fledged 3rd party apps should be value added options, not items that determine the value of the platform product.

    Oh, and what about iPod touch? Can we develop for that? We don’t have to worry about AT&T;’s sickly network getting blown over by a stiff breeze, right? Ah, but that would “open the door” now wouldn’t it. Can’t have that.

    • Open Application Programming Interfaces involve complex management and maintenance and can create legacy issues (see: WIndows)

    Please. This ain’t Windows, and it’s hardly a relevant analogy.

  3. “Microsoft isn’t bad because it is closed; it is bad because it is disgustingly greedy. Windows Enthusiasts need to stop deluding themselves into thinking that they live in a free world of an open platform. They are slaves, and their master is not only vicious, but also incompetent and has no taste.”

    Daniel Eran Dilger

    I love this guy !!!

  4. read the fucking article before commenting jackass, your concerns are addressed.

    Well, anonymous coward, since you have so much time on your hands, why don’t you write a summary of the article as it applies to my comments.

  5. Okay, I just skimmed the article. Here’s what I found as it applies to my first comment: Nothing.

    3rd party apps should add value, not define it. All the article says is that Apple can do this instead of letting 3rd parties do it. The other option mentioned is that I’m free to hack out my own app sans API. Wonderful. The article still assumes that there could possibly be a 3rd party app that would overshadow the inherent value of iPhone (i.e. it’s factory installed apps) that Apple would then feel obligated to develop its future APIs around. Nonesense.

    Open iPod touch since it can’t affect AT&T;’s pansy network. I hardly see any mention of iPod touch, except as a means to segue into talking about Microsoft.

    API Legacy issues. Article notes that “Apple has worked to develop objective APIs that are stable and resilient to internal changes, but if developers are unsatisfied with the level of performance or portability provided, they will work around the API boundary, almost guaranteeing that any significant changes made on Apple’s side will break their applications in the future.”

    In other words, it doesn’t touch on the comment I made: this ain’t Windows and is hardly relevant. It takes one speculative condition and advances this as a deterrent for both developers and Apple in an open API. It’s bullshit.

    So please, go fuck yourself.

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